COUNCIL bosses who dismissed a gypsy family’s long-running bid to create a pitch in green belt woodland - which was subsequently overturned and granted by the Planning Inspectorate - are set to seek a judicial review into the decision.
The site, in Worsbrough Wood, is covered by a preservation order and - despite a planning application being refused by councillors in April - work on readying the site continued despite threats of legal action from the council.
Planning bosses’ initial refusal last year cited the scheme - submitted by the Smith and Doran families - as being ‘harmful to the character and appearance of the conservation area and neighbouring Grade II-listed Worsbrough Hall’.
Coun Tim Cheetham, cabinet spokesperson for place, said: “The area of Worsbrough Wood sits within the green belt and is covered by a tree preservation order.
“In 2018, we served an enforcement notice concerning the access routes that had been created, and we secured an injunction to prevent further damage to trees within the woodland.
“More recently, further enforcement notices were served to prevent the use of the land as a gypsy and traveller site.
“The notice also required structures to be removed and for the land to be returned to its original condition.
“A stop notice was also issued. Given that the owner of the land has made no attempt to comply with the enforcement notice, we were in the process of installing concrete blocks to prevent the illegal use of the access routes.
“However, we were appalled to learn that some of the blocks were purposely moved.”
A subsequent appeal by the applicant to the Planning Inspectorate - which has the power to overrule council decisions - was successful and a temporary three-year stay was granted.
Inspector Roy Merrett’s report said: “I have concluded that it would be appropriate to grant temporary planning permission in relation to the appeal for a three-year period.
“I have considered the argument that the grant of planning permission would set a precedent for similar developments.
“However, each application and appeal must be determined on its own individual merits and a generalised concern of this nature would not, in itself, justify withholding planning permission in this case.
“Conditions confirming that planning permission is granted for a temporary period, that occupation is restricted to the appellant, his wife and resident dependants and requiring remediation of the site following the expiry of the temporary permission or prior cessation of use, are necessary in the interests of environmental protection.”
Planning board member Coun David Greenhough backed the decision to seek a judicial review into the inspector’s decision.
He told the Chronicle: “If it’s upheld, it sets a dangerous precedent for future applications.
“The council rightly deemed the application inappropriate given its position within the green belt.”